This Friday i signed-up a partnership agreement with Abhinav Sahai. We’ve together setup Niswey Digital Marketing Services LLP, a registered partnership firm with Abhinav as the majority shareholder.

Abhinav had joined Srijan in Nov 2008 right after completing his B.Tech. from a college in the Delhi region. He joined as a TYPO3 developer (for those of us who know Srijan and it’s work with Drupal – back then Srijan was an all out TYPO3 company until we started making the move to Drupal slowly since about the same year). He had joined with references of colleagues with whom he had volunteered for an open source event called Freed.in.

I had this habit of picking up enthused and passionate characters even if they did not know much about technology (not to suggest that Abhinav did not). To date i value passion and drive – a fire-in-the-belly attitude – more than skills any given time. Ofcourse, skills are important, but you find many skilled people with a poor attitude or no depth of vision for the life they want; with no pursuits higher than “become a Team Lead in 5 years from now” or “earn a high salary” or “work for big brand after 2 years; i’m being honest sir”. I have nothing against people who pursue material or such positional gains, but i have a bias towards people who seem to be seeking something more. Some can articulate these well; most can’t – but their actions demonstrate their passions.

Abhinav’s actions – his participation in Freed.in, and participating in an open source drug design initiative at JNU, got him a reference, and eventually a job at Srijan.

However, this honeymoon lasted just about 1 month. He sent a “siging off” email before catching a train back to his home town in Lucknow, not giving me a chance to even speak with him.

hello sir

this is probably one of the toughest decision i have made. I am quitting srijan.You might be hurt by my decision and considering the fact that you are such a nice person, I didnt want to hurt you but i have to. It was only because of you that i stayed this long even.

Initially when i joined srijan i was very happy about it. I had come with a perception that i would be working with some great minds, the likes of Gora sir, Ipsita and then found Riteshji and syed bhai as well. I used to find qualities in everyone and was very happy about all of it. I even declined another offer in a large organization for it. I didn’t regrret it then but maybe a month from them had that offer come i would have accepted that.

In those 55 days at srijan i found more reasons to quit than to be a part of it and then when finally i thought i wasn’t willing to sit there for even 6 hours I decided to quit. I was never there for salary, money was not an issue for me. I had come thinking that i would be working for the open source world. a place that would not be comprising of office politics, where deserving people would be above you and a place where i would be able to learn at a pace and skills which would make stand out of the league. Maybe that’s a mistake i committed. Srijan’s site has in its header, “ethics should not stay at home when we go to work”, but frankly speaking how many in your company follow that? The question mark stands in front of you as well.
Are people deserving enough to get the designation they are holding? or the salary they are getting? Are you doing the right thing by shedding off your responsibilities? I believe if a person cannot manage 20 people and keep them happy then i guess he should not dream of heading an organization, or maybe then hire an HR for that job. I was not at all happy staying there straight 15 days into the place. Not enough good people to be with. If this is how IT companies are then maybe i won’t get back to this industry again. I will probably join some management job or maybe do an MBA (if required) and then do some managing job.

After this piece, he wrote a long list of rants against people who he saw were deceiving me, were inefficient and eating on the company time, money and resources; he also gave me a download on who should be promoted and how we should deliver projects.

Part of all this was instigated by our salary review process, which i was trying to make really transparent, and the responsibility of deciding salaries – their own and of others as well – back on the people. Someone had pointed out to me that this was an “abdication of  your responsibility” (was it Abhinav who said this?); that time i did not see it, but now i do (but honestly, i must acknowledge i still grow cold feet when salary review time hovers on my head).

Abhinav shifted his career from technology to Digital Marketing, quitting about 3 jobs during this period – he just could not settle anywhere, in any standard company environment – which he probably found even more dissatisfying for many reasons than Srijan.

I guess we both liked the honesty of character in each other, which was probably the reason all throughout we kept in touch over these years. None of us had burnt our bridges with each other.

A year back, i got interested in the work he was doing, and that he had had a start-up stint in Digital Marketing, which was now shutdown.

The most important thing to me in my life is to work with good people, and enable them leap-frong to achieve their dreams. In this process i believe i will find my life’s fulfillment, and financial security. I must admit, i find myself pretty incompetent as a manager; and many of my colleagues have told me i am not a natural leader. While i am harsh on myself, i do have some exceptional difficult-to-find qualities (am being a bit fair and easy on myself!), specifically with maintaining and building on relationships and with identifying great people to work with. Inspired people often find inspiration from me, and some even turn to me for advise. Not boasting; just trying to give a perspective here.

So, i kept nagging Abhinav every now and then, about what he wanted to do. I wanted someone like him to help me out with Srijan’s Digital Marketing initiative. I’d come across many agencies, and some good people – but none so far with such a deep drive and dedication and honesty in his work and pursuits.

So, i worked out a model for him to make the leap – i organised his financial security through two clients, one being Srijan, and the other being my partner’s private project. Abhinav joined us about 6 months back.

This Friday, 09 December 2011, we signed the partnership deed between Abhinav and i. This becomes the first case study under Ashoka Tree (blog/website under development, as of this date) – a dream project for me; worth consuming my life with.

I’ve helped Niswey win new business with some of Srijan’s clients; i’ll continue to mentor and advise, and even do sales and marketing for the company. I believe this is essential for the success of the business. My work experience apart from the business relationships and i have built over these years have tremendous value for any business i would be associated with. Niswey gets a distinct advantage of being called the sister concern of Srijan Technologies, thus leveraging that large potent network of clients and business.

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